Tuesday, 30 August 2005 - Reported by Shaun Lyon
Catching up on some recent Doctor Who press clips:
According to a report in The Scotsman, new BBC1 controller Peter Fincham spoke recently at the Edinburgh Television Festival to "set out his ambition for a popular network that would bring families around the set, through shows such as Doctor Who, despite predictions that the 'iPod generation' now only wanted media served on-demand. The new controller announced a focus on comedy drama and said the network would continue to produce the historic period-piece dramas for which it was well known." The article says that Fincham highlighted Doctor Who "as an example of a programme that drew new, younger audiences into the BBC in a family viewing experience. He also predicted that in an age of proliferating digital channels, BBC1 would be the trust-brand viewers would keep turning to for major live events. 'It is tempting to assume that the shared experience is in terminal decline, but the urge to be part of a bigger audience, and the satisfaction that we derive from it, is a strong one," he said. "In a time-shifted world, live events - Live 8 is a good example - assume a greater importance than ever.'"
The Telegraph reported that the stock of Character Group "jumped 7 1/2 to 57 1/2p after unveiling plans to launch a Dr Who range of toys in the next few weeks. The toy range, which is based on the BBC TV series, has been developed in partnership with the public service broadcaster." A press release by the company noted that the toy range "includes a Talking Tardis Money Box, the Sonic Screwdriver, an LCD game and 3D Walkie Talkies and The Dalek. Richard King, Chairman of The Character Group said: 'The first bulk shipment of the radio controlled Daleks will hit the stores within the next two weeks and, whilst the demand for all our Dr Who products is very encouraging, we would expect that the demand for the radio controlled Dalek, will far exceed our manufacturing capacity to Christmas of 150,000 units'." Also reported at This Is Money.
There's a new version of the classic police box in Glasgow, says the Evening Times. "It looks like it has landed from outer space, but this hi-tech box is the latest crime-busting device used by police in Glasgow. The city's new police box would not look out of place in an episode of Dr Who, but the 'tardis' will remain at St Enoch Square. Sitting prominently near the entrance to the subway station at the bottom of Buchanan Street, the box will be a vital tool in solving crime in the city centre and will be used by officers across the division. The chrome box stands at 10ft tall and is the first operational police box in the city since 1969, when radios made them redundant. It will be protected by CCTV and will allow instant reporting of incidents. If successful, more space age boxes could be materialising on a street near you. Police boxes were once a familiar site across the city, but very few remain. There is still a vintage box on Buchanan Street, which serves as a tourist information point and another on Great Western Road at Byres Road, which has been converted into a coffee shop. Earlier this year, a worker discovered an old police box embedded in a brick wall. It will go on display at the city's police museum next spring." Also reported by Strathclyde Police, BBC News, Glasgow Evening Times, Scotland Today.
Tom Baker is interviewed in a BBC press release about the seventh and final season of "Monarch of the Glen" in which he plays Donald MacDonald. Says Baker in the interview, "I enjoy overacting and I'm very good at it - I suppose you could say I've made a career out of it. Donald MacDonald is a part I can have fun with, which is marvellous because I have a horror of self pity and I try to see the funny side of everything. As you get near death, as I am, you have to laugh at everything - otherwise the alternative is to be utterly depressed." He notes that he enjoyed filming a scene with a real-life panther for a very dramatic Monarch storyline later in the run. "Oh, the panther was wonderful!' exclaims Tom. "One of my best co-stars ever, because let's face it, cats are so much more interesting to look at in close-up than actors." Read more of the interview in the press release; it's on the fifth page.
The Daily Star says that Billie Piper "blooms in sexy black" in some new photos in today's issue. "The 22-year-old, who plays the Time Lord's sidekick in the smash BBC series Dr Who, looks sexier than ever in this sensational new photoshoot. And it seems the show's famous Tardis is now about to transport our Billie to global superstardom. ... Her gorgeous curves and sexy pout have helped win the cult sci-fi show a whole new generation of fans - and earned her plenty of hot offers from telly and film bosses." Last weekend's Sunday Mirror discussed recent sightings of Piper, which noted that "She's apparently been filming from 11pm to 5am every night in Cardiff, which means her days are often spent in bed catching up on sleep so it's no wonder she hit the pub at the first opportunity."
BBC News reported last week that "three workers on Brighton Pier hid in the Doctor Who exhibition today (Tues) during a police and immigration department raid. Forty police officers and immigration workers entered the pier at 0850 BST on Tuesday and rounded up about 60 staff. The Home Office has said it was an intelligence-led operation. The pier re-opened at 1220 BST. The 60 staff were questioned in a fish and chip shop on the pier, which was shut to the public. The immigration service said most of the people involved co-operated but three people had hidden in the pier's Dr Who exhibition."
An article at the VH1 website discusses Eric Roberts (the Master in the 1996 TV movie) in two music videos, two by Mariah Carey and one by the group The Killers.
Several papers have run a brief article about gay actors/characters on television including noting John Barrowman's recent portrayal of Captain Jack, including the Washington Blade, the Houston Voice (Texas), and the Southern Voice (Georgia).
In The Observer last week (21 August 2005), there was a section in which critics were invited to pick out the most overrated moments in art and the media. Kathryn Flett picked out four moments in TV, including: "Dr Who: Russell T Davies has done wonders, admittedly, but the original was cheap, dull, creaky and parochial." Ugh.
More coverage of Elisabeth Sladen and John Leeson on the new series at Yahoo, Manchester Online, The Scotsman,SciFi.com; more on BBC1 winning Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh International TV Festival at The Guardian.
(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Chuck Foster, Peter Weaver, Mark Irwin, Andrew Tibbs, John Kilbride, James Wilkinson, James Pearson, Darren Pickles)